Arthritis can be debilitating anywhere in the body, but for 61-year-old David Sander, the pain in his ankle was keeping him from enjoying retirement.
“If I walked one day, I couldn’t walk for two,” Sander told FoxNews.com. “It was as bad as bad can be. The pain was so miserable, that even a cane wouldn’t help.”
Sander broke his ankle about 30 years ago and had it repaired, but it was obvious he needed to do something else about it, so he went to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
“A lot of ankle arthritis is post-traumatic, meaning it’s after you’ve had an old ankle fracture that damaged the ankle, and over the years it became arthritic,” said Dr. Jonathan Deland, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
To alleviate Sander’s pain, Deland did a total ankle replacement. In the past, the surgery was difficult and not very successful— but new technology is changing that. Rather than going through the front of the ankle, doctors put the replacement in through the side of the ankle.
“The implant is being loaded in a curved surface on the bone, so as the ankle moves, instead of teeter-tottering on a flat surface, it’s on a curved surface, which is the way the bone is meant to be loaded,” Deland said.
Recovery for the surgery— which takes two to three hours— is about 10 weeks. According to Deland, patients can be active with their new ankles, including playing golf and tennis. Most insurers will pay for the procedure.
For Sander, who now bikes daily, the surgery has had a huge impact on his life.
“It’s like I have a bionic ankle in there; it’s as good as my real ankle,” he said. “I never even think about it.”